Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Legality of 3D printing gun parts and having them shipped

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Positivity, Apr 10, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Positivity

    Positivity Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    73
    Location:
    South Eastern Virginia
    What is the legality of 3D printing non Class 3 gun parts and having them shipped to my door step? For example, would it be legal for me to have a stainless steel bolt action receiver & barrel printed and shipped to me?

    As a bit of background, 3D printing is using a specialized printer to print out a 3D model in various materials. Usually these models are kept as a computer file designed by the customer.
     
  2. seanie!

    seanie! Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    392
    Location:
    IL
    I'm no legal expert, but my guess is that it would be illegal unless you're an FFL holder? It's my understanding that the receiver of a bolt action rifle is the technical firearm. Hence, it would be like shipping a brand new firearm straight to your door. I could be wrong though. I have been plenty of times.
     
  3. Twiki357

    Twiki357 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2011
    Messages:
    1,906
    Location:
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    If my understanding of 3D printing is correct, the "Print" is made out of a plastic or resin type of material and would not be a functioning firearm. If this is true, there should be no problem any more than if it were a toy or non-functioning display model. But, like seanie, I could be wrong. The key in my mind is, Is it an actual weapon.
     
  4. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    12,350
    Location:
    DFW Area
    Metal parts can now be printed. They're sufficiently strong for many functioning parts but I don't know of the technology is advanced enough to make parts that are strong enough to use as a functioning bolt-action rifle receiver or firearm barrel yet.
     
  5. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    4,612
    Location:
    MN
    I don't think the technology is there yet to make a stainless steel part of that nature. If it were, one would have to have a manufactures FFL because ,as mentioned, the receiver is generaly considered a firearm by ATF.
     
  6. F-111 John

    F-111 John Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    964
    Location:
    Holt, MI
    The legality lies in the part, not how the part came to be in existance.
     
  7. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    3,561
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    reciever, yes as long as it isn't a finished reciever. You can legally buy 80% 1911 frames (which is the firearm according to the ATF) and have the shipped directly to your door. You have to finish the milling/etc. If you had a 80% design and had it printed, I'd expect it to be the same. You'd still have to mill in stuff, possibly like an ejection port, or the slots for the locking lugs to go through yourself though.

    Bolts, barrels, etc... perfectly legal in a usable state to be shipped to your door.
     
  8. gfanikf

    gfanikf Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2011
    Messages:
    866
    Location:
    PA
    Can someone explain 3D Printing and it's potential gun applications a little more? The last I recall reading was an Economist article a few years ago (and mostly skimming it). Does it read a schematic and produce an object selected using the material provided (what would normally be printer paper)? Also more materials that can be used as the paper are coming on market?

    If so the potential legal and tech implications are tremendous. Imagine downloading a schematic off the internet and printing out a gun. Hell, even for a local "print shop" FFL builder/designer it has tremendous possibilities. I mean imagine the potential profit in printed guns. You could sidestep so many issues with patent expired guns. Sorry for rambling the potential implications (just in firearms) is staggering, let alone general manufacturing and design.
     
  9. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    3,561
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    gfanikf.. home 3d printers are still not doing metal.. I hadn't heard that commercial ones were either.
     
  10. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Messages:
    43,265
    Location:
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    Best to go Googling.

    Regardless, even if it were possible to print a complete action, it would be a BATFE-defined firearm and would have to be transferred via an FFL.

    SFAIK, the printer would have to be licensed by BATFE as a manufacturer, and would have to report the serial number of the sale.
     
  11. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    3,561
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    ART - I can produce a firearm in the house with a lathe and mill. No SN, No registration, Nothing and be legal as long as I don't attempt to sell the firearm. There is no prohibition against making firearms for personal use.

    My bad, you used printer as in the shop doing the printing, not the device that is printing.. dead on then.
     
  12. gfanikf

    gfanikf Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2011
    Messages:
    866
    Location:
    PA
    Neither had I. I had seen a paper one do a mask of a video game character, while impressive was small and still using paper.

    Of course, that said it would reduce the possible barrier to entry costs for an FFL to be a manufacturer, especially in a decade using the rule of what's cutting edge now and what is ten years from now. Any local FFL could become a manufacturer and could make any gun for someone at costs that no one would imagine. Guns-on-demand if you will, sort of like Warner Brothers Archive Program, but with guns!

    Of course it would make illegal gun manufacture a lot easier, but hey that's technology it works both ways. I swear I'm only 28, but this stuff seems so Sci-Fi and not something that's reality.

    Here is an article I found discussing the idea too and links to the files for an AR Lower and Magazine.

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/20/is-printing-a-gun-the-same-as-buying-a-gun/

    Man could you imagine Magazines on Demand! Crap I should trade mark that. Make brand new AK-74 Magazines using original Circle 10 Plans.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  13. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    3,561
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    There is one company doing stainless 3d printing, at least what google says. It doesn't look like it could be done for any high pressure applications, but it would be a great way to get a wax or plastic piece to be used in casting. Print it in wax, polish it up a bit, spray it with ceramics, pour in the molten metal and watch the wax burn away/melt out. The resin the makerbot uses is just plastic.. you could do a lower, but the it's too big to be done on a makerbot.
     
  14. fatcat4620

    fatcat4620 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,263
    Location:
    TN
    ORNL has four metal 3D printing machines. It looks like zinc or pot metal they use.
     
  15. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    3,135
    Not suitable for pressure (barrels or bolt action receivers).

    If it become possible to manufacture high strength parts suitable for firearms the existing manufacture rules would be invoked.

    While numerous machine shops posses the equipment to manufacture firearms, as long as the machinery is not put to that use there is no BATFE involvement.
     
  16. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    And, in fact, nothing illegal even if you DO sell the firearm!

    (Just don't make them for the purpose of selling.)
     
  17. Owen

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    5,928
    Location:
    Georgetown, TX
    I know ORNL and a few other government labs can print with titanium dust. I'be be surprised if the strength is anywhere close to a part milled from bar or cast.
     
  18. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    Probably not. I'd imagine this would be a sintering process -- in other words a powder gets sprayed into a shape and then heated to a fusing temp, somewhat below the melting temperature of the metal. The problem is (as I understand it) all such powder processes are somewhat porous and the strength of the final part is based on the desnity achieved. I don't think that 100% density (equivalent of forged or cast) is achievable, though I don't know what percentage is so.
     
  19. F-111 John

    F-111 John Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    964
    Location:
    Holt, MI
    Not unlike the process to manufacture MIM parts.
     
  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    Yes, sounds analogous to MIM. And, we're still not up to MIM barrels and stress-bearing receiver parts just yet, either.
     
  21. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    2,908
    Location:
    Virginia
    Doesn't matter what the receiver is made of, or if it survives the firing. If it can fire a single round, it's considered a firearm.

    Here's an interesting question. If you run the printer over a network, sending the data stream to a printer located in a different state, would it be considered an interstate transfer?
     
  22. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Messages:
    43,265
    Location:
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    Looking at the OP's comment about shipping, and Sam's post #16, it looks to me like manufacture by the printer for the purpose of selling--which would mean FFL.

    The printer is not printing for his own purposes; he's selling his work to fill an order--and that's "doing bidness".
     
  23. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,736
    Location:
    Central PA
    Of course, certainly.

    That is similar to another question I was pondering last night. This technology will certainly continue to develop. The blueprints of a gun are not THE gun. Certainly the electronic instructions to create a gun are not a gun, either. So, push the tech ahead 30 years and the metal process stuff is greatly improved, the prototyping machines are cheaper and easier to use, and the precision of the formed part is equal to that of a CNC machine milling rough forgings/castings.

    Now a purchaser can contact the manufacturer directly, pay for his gun, "stream" a command file to his prototyping device, and the firearms company sells guns without any need for even a manufacturer's 07 FFL, or transfer through an 01 FFL in the buyer's state!

    All science fiction right now, but looking at what's changed in the last 30 years, the next 30 will probably be pretty impressive, too. It would be darned funny to see much of GCA-'68 become irrelevant as technology surpasses it.
     
  24. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    3,561
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    Sam, definitely correct about being able to sell it. I thought you had to put a marking on it to sell it.. I'm probably wrong. I did intend to say as long as you are making it for personal use and without the intent to manufacture it for sale. Excellent point.
     
  25. gfanikf

    gfanikf Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2011
    Messages:
    866
    Location:
    PA
    I suspect what would happen is that the interstate data streaming (and go luck trying to say it's all in-state in general, and in specific to the Montana Firearm Freedom Bill) would be judged the same as a interstate commerce and the blueprint (or the frame/reciever) section would be considered a gun under an ATF ruling saying that it's in the spirit of the GCA. I could even see that occurring as an amendment to the GCA. Gun stores (wanting a printing transfer), manufacturers (Colts and Glocks who produce new weapons protected by IP law), and a few others. Now whether enforcement is possible or not is another question, but do you want to be stopped with a gun without a serial number or the guy who tries selling these direct.

    Here is an interesting question what about when one downloads the file for free off the internet? Lots of interesting IP Law potentials (trademark, patent, and possibly copyright) and liability law too.

    Agree on the sci-fi stuff. Truthfully I got giddy thinking of it (in general), I mean just look at phones and tablets in the last decade.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page